White House: G7 expected to talk about Pyongyang

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White House: G7 expected to talk about Pyongyang

The Group of Seven leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are expected to discuss North Korea’s nuclear provocations at a summit in Japan next week, according to the White House on Tuesday.

On May 26, the leaders of the G-7 world’s major economies-Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States-as well as the European Union, will gather at the two-day G-7 summit held in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture.

“Obviously, the world is concerned about the provocations and destabilizing activities of the North Korean regime,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, at a briefing, stating he was “confident” this issue will be discussed at the upcoming G-7 meeting in Japan. Washington, he maintained, will continue to work with the international community to isolate Pyongyang “until they make clear that they’re prepared to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula” and stop engaging in “provocative acts that are broadly destabilizing.”

After their summit in Germany last year, the G-7 leaders included in their declaration on June 8, 2015, a line that strongly condemned “North Korea’s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as its appalling human rights violations and its abductions of nationals from other countries.”

However, North Korea since then has conducted its fourth nuclear test earlier this year on Jan. 6, followed by a long-range ballistic missile launch one month later. This resulted in the adoption by the UN Security Council of a resolution imposing the toughest-ever sanctions on Pyongyang in March. Washington also implemented additional unilateral sanctions on North Korea.

Earnest said it is up to Pyongyang to decide to denuclearize and that “until they do, they’re going to continue to face the kind of isolation that they currently suffer from.”

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in Washington on Tuesday that the Kim Jong-un regime is “on a quest for nuclear weapons, the means to miniaturize them and the ways to deliver them intercontinentally.”

Harris said that he has been working to boost the trilateral military cooperation among South Korea, Japan and the United States because of Pyongyang’s provocations, pointing out there was no threat in the region that was “more dangerous than North Korea.”

But while trilateral cooperation is good now, he said, “I’d like to get it better,” adding that the deal at the end of last year between Seoul and Tokyo to resolve the issue of the Japanese wartime sexual slavery during World War II would help such cooperation.

However, in a marked contrast to the Obama administration’s stance on Pyongyang, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told Reuters on Tuesday that he is willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to try to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.

Trump said in the interview on his economic and foreign policy ideas, “I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him,” adding that he would “absolutely” try to talk some sense into Kim.

The real estate mogul added that he would “put a lot of pressure” on Beijing, North Korea’s traditional ally and main source of trade, “because economically we have tremendous power over China.”

Trump has previously suggested that South Korea and Japan develop their own nuclear arsenals to counter North Korea, a move which analysts have pointed out could threaten the security and stability of the region.

The presumptive Republican nominee has also raised the possibility of a day when Washington may withdraw its nuclear arsenal from the Northeast Asia region and withdraw U.S. troops under his presidency.

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the chairman of Trump’s national security advisers, said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” Tuesday, “I believe there’s nobody that’s run for president in years who understands how to negotiate more effectively than Donald Trump, and I do believe he will not be disadvantaged by Kim or anybody in North Korea.”

Sessions, however, added that he thinks that “it’s unlikely that a good result would come out of it, but to attempt something like that may be worth the effort.”

But the top foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton was more skeptical of Trump’s proposal.

“Let me get this straight,” said Jake Sullivan in a statement, “Donald Trump insults the leader of our closest ally, then turns around and says he’d love to talk to Kim Jong-un? His approach to foreign policy makes no sense for the rest of us.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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